By Jillian Falconi

September 8th, 2015

As social media continues its move towards center-stage in marketing, the relationship between the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and Social Media Manager (SMM) becomes increasingly important as more focus is set on the influence of the awareness created through social media activities on other marketing channels. In this two-part series, our own VP of Global Marketing and SMM share insights into their role in an effort to give their counterpart a better idea of how they can set each other up for success.

In the first part of this series, our Social Media Manager, Caroline, told you her side of the story and shared some great insight into how people in her position can communicate with the people who are in mine. Now, I get the chance to flip the script and share a few things I’ve learned about how CMOs can maximize their relationship with their Social Media Managers to propel their shared company into the future.

#1 – Social isn’t everything…Yet

Social media marketing has settled in as a legitimate marketing practice – the adoption of social media platforms by top brands has reached soaring heights – as high as 99% for Facebook and 97% for Twitter. But even beyond that, social is gradually making its way toward the center of all marketing activities, and I have no doubt that it will be the defining element in the near future. What has driven this increase in relevance for social? Social has gone mainstream as the channel to reach and engage audiences. Because of its digital nature, it allows us to reach and activate relevant audiences with a more personal approach. What is even more interesting is to see how the data accumulated from social channels is redefining marketing research and intelligence. Social data allows us to understand who our customers really are and what triggers them–and therefore helps businesses to have meaningful conversations, rather than just pushing messages randomly to audiences.

However, as important as social is to the future of marketing, it’s not everything just yet. It can be easy for SMMs and social-oriented leaders like myself to get super excited about the future and charge ahead, neglecting some of the tried-and-true marketing practices that still hold relevance. There are some core challenges that still remain unsolved. While social offers an abundance of data, it is still unstructured, and translating this into meaningful insights remains a challenge for most businesses (more on this later). As a CMO, you want to coach your social media manager to see the broader picture of marketing as it exists today, where and how social fits into that picture, and help them find the natural connections that can tie the efforts together. It does no good for social media to operate in its own silo, disconnected from the rest of the marketing strategy. As an example, connecting your social teams to your market analysis efforts provides a great opportunity in understanding how this data can add value to the overall business objectives.

According to Forrester:

“Nearly every marketer uses social media today, but too few use it well. Most marketing leaders treat social as something special and unique, leading them to either separate it completely from the rest of their marketing efforts or ask social to carry an entire marketing program on its own.1

The next step here is to evaluate your own marketing department – is your social team well-integrated with the rest of your marketing efforts, or are they living on an island, disconnected from your lead generation efforts, PR, design, and other relevant teams? If it’s isolated, meet with your SMM to discuss potential connection points, and put together an action plan to make it happen.

#2 – It’s all about the ROI.

The accountability of marketing in influencing the revenue generated by companies is becoming more central, and the effect of social media on influencing new and existing customers is no exception. It used to be that one of the biggest benefits to social media was related to increase in organic reach and brand recognition, but that is simply no longer the case.

Forrester again:

“Organic social reach has evaporated, and paid advertising is the only guaranteed way to reach people on social networks. That’s why more than 80% of marketers’ social spending goes toward simply buying ads on social sites.2

Faced with this new reality, social media managers are going to be advocating for bigger budgets. However, if you are going to grant them a larger proportion, you need to ask yourself what the influence is on your conversion in comparison to the other channels within your marketing mix. Tracking of activities and performance, and constant optimization is as critical as in other areas within marketing.

However, social media ROI can be a tough nut to crack. According to a CMO survey, only about 15% of CMOs say that they have seen a proven quantitative impact. In order to prove that it is working, we need to have a paradigm shift – we need to get beyond vanity metrics.

"Social data allows us to understand who our customers really are and what triggers them–and therefore helps businesses to have meaningful conversations, rather than just pushing messages randomly to audiences."

#3 – Let’s get beyond vanity metrics

This is the other side of the ROI coin. For a SMM, “Likes”, “Retweets,” “Followers,” and “Fans” are what get them out of bed in the morning. And for good reason–watching those numbers climb means the community is engaged, the content is quality, and that they are doing their job well. But those measurements indicate the beginning of the customer journey, not the end. If we’re content to have people become fans of our page and occasionally engage with our content, social will add little to the business. As marketers, our aim is to guide a customer from being unknown and unaware to becoming a loyal, repeat buyer, and that journey should determine how we structure our approach to social.

One of the most important things I can say to my social media manager is to start with the end goal in mind, and then work backwards. Give your social audience a clear indication of how they can interact with you and then lead them to the right buying decision. This kind of strategic decision-making will help you create the right content to reach the right audience who will buy the right product. Wash, rinse, repeat. It starts by analyzing something as simple as: Who are the people following your brand? How many of them represent your buyer profile?

#4 – Social data should go beyond social.

Everyone loves to talk about Big Data, but not everyone is making great use of it. There is a copious amount of information available for collection out in social media, but it needs to be applied effectively.

As more information becomes available, it becomes imperative that we narrow our scope and collect only the information we can make use of, and then apply it. Too many organizations are collecting massive quantities of data, with little regard for its quality, and then sitting on it because they don’t know what to do with it.

Here at Falcon Social, Caroline utilizes our Listen tool to track mentions and sentiment about our brand, online discussions we want to be a part of, and social information we think will be useful for our clients. This data is made available to various teams throughout the company, not just Marketing, and has been used to improve our customer service, improve our product, and reach new prospects, among other things. There are endless data points you can collect – but start with the simple question of what data could help target buyers more effectively and then look into how you can use social to acquire this information. The more structured your approach, the more you will get from your social channels.

In closing

The relationship between CMO and SMM will only continue to grow in importance, and the two individuals need to coach each other on their unique perspectives. The CMO should work hard to make sure that the SMM understands how their efforts fit and can be translated not only into the remainder of marketing, but also the rest of the company.

1. Integrate Social Into Your Marketing RaDaR, Forrester Research, Inc., August 6, 2015
2. It’s Time To Separate “Social” From “Media”, Forrester Research, Inc., August 6, 2015

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